The Holy Spirit & the Local Church 5

Responsibilities of Local Church Members, Part Two
by Pastor John Hamel

“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17)

We are still studying the Holy Spirit and the Local Church.  In our last lesson we began to see just some of the things the Holy Spirit expects from each and every member of the Body of Christ.  Every Believer needs to be involved in a Local Church.  Every Believer needs to be faithful in their support of the Pastor of their Local Church.  Our above text says that our Pastors one day will give account for their leadership over us. 

If we make the Pastor miserable in his governing capacity, our text also reveals that life will be unprofitable for us.  Unprofitable not only here on the Earth, but even more so when we reach Heaven’s gate.  

Our time on Earth is a probationary period.  We are deciding our Eternity right here and now.  God has not already decided our Eternity; He is leaving it up to us.  The closer we live to Jesus and His Word here on Earth, the closer we will live to Jesus in Heaven and the greater the rewards.  If we live a life of disobedience on the Earth as Believers, we strip ourselves of rewards both here and in Eternity future. (2Corinthians 5:6-10)

In our last lesson we saw the importance of allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us to a Church that preaches and teaches the Bible in its fullness.  You do not need to be in a Church that does not believe in the Gifts of the Spirit for today when you believe that the Gifts of the Spirit are for today.  That will drain your faith.  

We saw the importance of loving and highly esteeming our Pastor and submitting to Him willingly.  We spoke of the importance of being faithful in attendance, praying for the Pastor and their spouse, paying tithes and offerings, involving ourselves in a Missionary program and keeping ourselves both teachable and correctable.  Let us get right back into it.

Covet Earnestly the Holy Spirit's Gifts

“But COVET EARNESTLY THE BEST GIFTS: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.” (1Corinthians 12:31)

To “covet” means, “to have a strong desire for something.”  The Gifts of the Spirit will not manifest proficiently unless we desire them so strongly that we are continually thanking the Holy Spirit for their manifestation.  You can and you must do this.  (1Corinthians 1:7; 14:1)  Only as we expect the Holy Spirit to manifest can He and will He. (Hebrews 11:6) 

“What are the best Gifts to covet?” you may ask.  The best Gifts would be the ones that are needed the most, given the present circumstances.  For example, if someone were in need of healing in their body, the best Gift to operate in that particular situation would be the Gifts of Healings, not Prophecy.  Or, if someone needed to locate a lost person or object, the best Gift for that particular situation would be the Word of Knowledge, not the Gifts of Healings.  

The best Gifts are the ones that you need the most right now.

Sometimes only the Holy Spirit knows the best Gifts to operate during a Church service.  Just tell Him you realize that and you are coveting and strongly desiring that He would move in the way that He knows is best.  You may visit our JHM Online Bible Training Centre where you will find ten enlightening lessons on the nine Gifts of the Spirit.  Once there, click on “The Holy Spirit: Nine Spiritual Gifts” & scroll down.

Yield to the Operation of the Holy Spirit

 "QUENCH NOT THE SPIRIT.” (1Thessalonians 5:19)

Once we begin to covet the Gifts of the Spirit in our lives and in our services, they will begin to operate.  When this happens we want to be very careful to keep our eyes on Jesus and keep our eyes on the Holy Spirit.  As soon as we get our eyes on the one through whom the Gifts are operating, we begin to grieve the Spirit of God and the Gifts will cease to flow. (Ephesians 4:30)  

It quenches the Holy Spirit when we look at the anointed human vessel and not the One Who sends the Anointing. 

If the Gifts begin to operate through you, do not become self-conscious, either.  This will quench the Holy Spirit as quickly as pride will.  He can use whomever He chooses.  Tell Him that you are available.  Tell Him that you are willing to be used or for others to be used. 

Every Believer can operate in at least two or more Spiritual Gifts. (1Corinthians 12:11)  Find out where the Holy Spirit has gifted you and do whatever you need to do to keep yourself holy and to yield to your Gifts.  Sometimes they will operate in public services, other times in private. 

Cooperate with Biblical Government

“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and TELL HIM HIS FAULT BETWEEN THEE AND HIM ALONE: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.  But IF HE WILL NOT HEAR THEE, THEN TAKE WITH THEE ONE OR TWO MORE, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.  And IF HE SHALL NEGLECT TO HEAR THEM, TELL IT UNTO THE CHURCH: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.” (Matthew 18:15-17)

As Believers we must be careful to not run to the Pastor every time there is a conflict amongst ourselves.  Jesus clearly laid out His will for Church government regarding conflict. 

First, we are to attempt to resolve the matter ourselves. If the offending party refuses to repent, we are to take with us a witness who understands what the Bible says about the matter.  Only after going alone fails and going with a witness fails are we to involve the Pastor. 

If the individual refuses to repent, they are to become to us as “heathens and publicans.”  This means that we are to break fellowship with them and begin to pray that God would grant them sorrow until they repent. (2Corinthians 7:10; 2Timothy 2:25)  Of course, breaking fellowship is only for the most extreme types of sin such as sexual immorality, theft, slander, etc. (1Corinthians 5:1-13)  Petty issues should never come to this point. 

If the situation should result in this type of discipline, the Pastor should guide the Church members in harmony with the Word of God.  If it is necessary to break fellowship with someone until they repent, it is vitally important for the congregation to cooperate with the Pastor and the Holy Spirit and not offer resistance in the matter.  We must be exceptionally careful to not be guided by sympathy, family ties, raw emotion or friendship with the offender.  

If someone is sinning to the point where his or her very life is in jeopardy, we must do what love would do as hard as it may be. We must withstand them according to the Word of God, forcing them to come to terms with the danger of their sin.  This is what love would do.  We will talk about this more in the next point.

"Mark" & Deny Fellowship to the Offender 

“Now I beseech you, brethren, MARK THEM WHICH CAUSE DIVISIONS AND OFFENCES contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and AVOID THEM.” (Romans 16:17)

This is not mean or cruel.  This is what love would do to spare the life of the offender.  I personally know a man who had a homosexual spirit.  He sat in a Charismatic Church for years and no one would dare to correct him.  As he would change homosexual lovers, he would bring them to the Church and they would frequently sit together right in the front row.  The congregation behaved as if there was nothing wrong.  

The Pastor refused to address the man or to discipline him in any way.  His opinion was that it would be best for the man to keep hearing the preaching of the Word in order to bring him to repentance.  However, God does not need our opinions.  God needs our obedience.  God does not want to hear what we “think” is best.  God has already told us in the Bible what He thinks is best. 

The Bible says we are to confront individuals who are living in such deep sin, absolutely requiring that they repent.  If they refuse, we are to mark them as rebels (in the spirit of love, of course) and to break all fellowship with them.  This is to cause them to see the severity and danger of their sin.  

In some extreme cases, the Holy Spirit will also lead us to turn them over to Satan for the destruction of their flesh, that their spirits would be saved on the Day of Judgment. (1Corinthians 5:4,5)  Because this man was allowed to sit for well over a decade without Scriptural confrontation, he finally lost his life to aids.  

The Pastor who refused to confront him according to the Scripture preached his funeral in the very Church where he was allowed to remain in sin. 

This man was robbed of decades of joy, peace, health and prosperity.  

No one seemed to care that he was wasting his probationary period here on Earth.  

No one seemed to understand that they were cooperating with this man giving up everything for one thing.  

No one seemed to care that God, not the Pastor, is the One Who determines what is best for someone who is so entrenched in immorality.  Man’s opinion overrode the precious Holy written Word of God and it literally cost someone their life.

The Holy Spirit knows what He is doing.  Our opinions, our pride and our “better ideas” do not amount to a hill of beans when it comes to the Holy Spirit’s discipline

For every negative in the Bible there are two positives.  What I mean is this.  Every time God tells us to not do one thing, it is because He wants to do two things for us.  He wants to protect us and He wants to provide for us.  When we refuse to cooperate with Him, He cannot do either.

Forgive & Restore Fellowship to the Penitent 

“Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise YE OUGHT RATHER TO FORGIVE HIM, AND COMFORT HIM, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.” (2Corinthians 2:6-8)

Paul refers here to a man in First Corinthians chapter five who was having a sexual relationship with his father’s wife.  Paul instructed the Church at Corinth to mark the man and to avoid fellowship with him to bring him to repentance, according to the principles that we have discussed. The Church cooperated with Paul, as difficult as it was. The Holy Spirit’s Biblical form of discipline was very effective and the man came to repentance. 

Now, here, Paul tells the Corinth Church to restore the penitent man to fellowship.  Apparently they were unwilling to do so initially.  But with Paul’s admonition they restored the man in order that he not be consumed with sorrow and rejection.  T

he man had suffered enough and there was the chance that he may choose to not live if the Church refused to receive him back.  Therefore, by the Holy Spirit’s leading, the Apostle Paul insisted that the man, having learned his lesson, be restored to fellowship.

So too, the modern Church must cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s Biblical form of discipline and restoration.  We must cooperate with the Pastor when he is required to do things that are not easy.  The Pastor cannot govern effectively without the cooperation of the entire Body.  

When we have a Pastor willing to obey the Word of God at all costs, when it is easy and when it is hard, we should never do anything that would cause us to lose him or her.  How easily the Holy Spirit could remove an obedient Pastor from a disobedient congregation and set him over one that will cooperate with him when he sets out to obey the Word of God.

So we have seen some of the most important things that the Holy Spirit expects from each and every member of the Local Church.  

We must allow the Holy Spirit to lead us to the Church of His choice.  

We must love and esteem the Pastor and submit to him as he obeys the Word of God.  

We must be faithful in attendance.  

We must pray for our Pastor and their spouse.  

We must pay tithes and offerings and involve ourselves in our Church’s Missionary program.  

We must remain teachable and correctable.  

We are required to covet the best Spiritual Gifts and yield to them when they begin to operate.  

We must always cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s Biblical form of government and discipline, marking and denying fellowship with deliberate offenders.  

We must also absolutely forgive and restore the deliberate offender when they repent. 

In our three remaining lessons on “The Holy Spirit & the Local Church,” we will see how to personally and maturely receive the Holy Spirit’s correction when it is needed in our own individual lives.


Be Blessed … John and Barbara Hamel



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